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The Persistence of Beauty

March 6 – May 31, 2020

In 1967 a group of West Coast artists, frustrated by the lack of support for photography and a Western center like the George Eastman House or the Metropolitan Museum of Art to showcase it, banded together to form the Friends of Photography. The goal of the group was to encourage the growth of photography as a great creative medium by creating a center in California that would highlight and foster talent through exhibitions, workshops, and lectures. Their venture succeeded and in 1969 they assembled their first publication to bring what they were doing to Friends and supporters who could not come West. The result was The Persistence of Beauty, a collection of a dozen images chosen with the oldest and (seemingly) simplest of themes-beauty. Photographers featured in the first portfolio included Friends founder Ansel Adams, Imogene Cunningham, Paul Strand, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. The portfolio’s introduction, written by Nancy Newhall, became famous and is still taught and discussed as part of the art history of photography.

The notion of beauty, in its various meanings and manifestations, has long fascinated artists and critics. The quest for it has fueled almost all artistic endeavors since man’s earliest artworks. It has evolved to fit different ages, styles, and even agendas.

 And yet it persists. 

There can be expressions of beauty in the subject matter, the composition, and the tonalities of a photograph. It can be found in the landscapes of Ansel Adams, the abstractions of Brett Weston and Aaron Siskind, and the documentary photographs of James Nachtwey. Beauty may be seen in elements ranging from the mundane to the sublime, speaking to the eye and to the heart, without the necessity of translation or dialogue. This visual language stands on its own as a distinct and direct form of communication with the viewer.

 In light of that and inspired by the original portfolio, gallery founder Paul Paletti has chosen works from his collection for a similar purpose-to highlight photographic works of the highest caliber in which beauty is a significant element. Photographers in this tribute, in addition to those above, include Rachael Banks, Ester Bubley, William Clift, Joe Freeman, Lynn Geesaman, Kirk Gittings, Rolfe Horn, Daniel Lin, Ron McKibben, Gayle Moore, John Mulvaney, James Nachtwey, Anne Noggle, John Sexton, Steve Sherman, Aaron Siskind, Paul Strand, and John Willis. 

A reception for this show will be held on Friday, March 6, from 6-9pm as part of the First Friday Hop. Please join us to see for yourself how a sense of beauty exists in diverse interpretations through the works of these current and past photographers